Author Archive | Good German

Netanyahu on the Couch

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Uri Avnery writes at CounterPunch:

There are two different opinions about Binyamin Netanyahu. It is difficult to believe that they concern the same person.

One is that Netanyahu is a shallow politician, devoid of ideas and convictions, who is led solely by his obsession to remain in power. This Netanyahu has a good voice and a talent for making shallow speeches on television, speeches devoid of any intellectual content – and that’s all.

This Netanyahu is highly “pressurable” (a Hebrew word invented almost solely for him), a man who will change his views according to political expediency, disclaiming in the evening what he has said in the morning. None of his words should be trusted. He will lie and cheat anytime to assure his survival.

The other Netanyahu is almost the exact opposite. A principled patriot, a serious thinker, a statesman who sees danger beyond the horizon. This Netanyahu is a gifted orator, able to move the US Congress and the UN plenum, admired by the great mass of Israelis.

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Freddie Gray Had Pre-Existing Conditions, Just Not Ones You’ve Heard

freddie-gray

Via People’s Pundit Daily:

Reports have been circulating on the Internet suggesting Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who died last week from a spinal cord injury suffered either before or while in police custody, had a pre-existing injury. The initial report from the New Republic — which PPD found serious discrepancies with — cites Howard County court records as proof that a pre-existing injury “may have possibly” led to his death in April 19.

The Baltimore Sun first pushed back on the report citing court records examined Wednesday, showing the case had nothing to do with a car accident or a spine injury.

“Instead, they are connected to a lawsuit alleging that Gray and his sister were injured by exposure lead paint,” The BS report said (yes, pun intended).

However, according to a PPD investigation into the claims made in both reports, there are a number of relevant questions still unanswered.

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Mother Publicly Beats Her Son, Mainstream Media Calls Her a “Hero”

Stacey Patton, writing at the Washington Post:

It’s not surprising that a black mother in Baltimore who chased down, cursed and beat her 16-year-old son in the middle of a riot has been called a hero. In this country, when black mothers fulfill stereotypes of mammies, angry and thwarting resistance to a system designed to kill their children, they get praised.

“He gave me eye contact,” Toya Graham told CBS News. “And at that point, you know, not even thinking about cameras or anything like that — that’s my only son and at the end of the day, I don’t want him to be a Freddie Gray. Is he the perfect boy? No he’s not, but he’s mine.”

In other words, Graham’s message to America is: I will teach my black son not to resist white supremacy so he can live.

The kind of violent discipline Graham unleashed on her son did not originate with her, or with my adoptive mother who publicly beat me when I was a child, or with the legions of black parents who equate pain with protection and love.

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May Day Occupation at Guggenheim Closes Museum #GuggOccupied

Photo from Twitter.

Photo from Twitter.

Benjamin Sutton writes at Hyperallergic:

At noon today, a group of artists and activists including members of the Gulf Ultra Luxury Faction (known as G.U.L.F.) unfurled a large parachute in the atrium of the Guggenheim Museum, demanding to meet with a member of the institution’s board of trustees to discuss the labor conditions at its Abu Dhabi site. At the appointed time, members of the collective threw leaflets inspired by the current On Kawara exhibition from the museum’s upper levels and the protesters articulated their demands through a human microphone chant.

“It’s the most beautiful piece in the show,” remarked a French tourist watching from the top of the museum’s rotunda.

Though the protesters’ banner was swiftly destroyed by a guard wielding scissors, the group was allowed to remain seated in the museum atrium. As many as six NYPD officers arrived on the scene but, an hour after the protest began, they were called off by the museum administration.

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What the Frack Is Happening Under Long Beach?

Bosc d'Anjou (CC BY 2.0)

Bosc d’Anjou (CC BY 2.0)

Joshua Frank writes at OC Weekly:

Perhaps you’ve driven past them at night: several towering panels lit up like a psychedelic art installation, with a 45-foot waterfall gushing down the side and onto the boulder-strewn, pedestal-shaped, very-much-manmade island. The brightly painted structures seem harmless enough–if a bit out of place several hundred feet offshore from Long Beach’s affluent Bluff Park neighborhood–but what goes on behind the palm-lined façade is profoundly controversial and potentially very dangerous.

Built in 1965, the four THUMS islands–so named for the companies that first developed the sites: Texaco, Humble, Unocal, Mobil and Shell–were designed by esteemed landscape architect Joseph Linesch, who had a knack for turning blight into eye candy. While Long Beach’s Gas & Oil Department (LBGO) operates the islands, a wholly owned subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum (known as Occidental Long Beach Inc.) is contracted to perform the work of extracting fossil fuels from beneath the ocean floor.

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Ten Shocking Facts About Baltimore

English: Riot police form a line to push back protesters and media, Baltimore, April 28, 2015. via VOA

English: Riot police form a line to push back protesters and media, Baltimore, April 28, 2015. via VOA

Bill Quigley writes at CounterPunch:

Were you shocked at the disruption in Baltimore?  What is more shocking is daily life in Baltimore, a city of 622,000 which is 63 percent African American.  Here are ten numbers that tell some of the story.

1:  Blacks in Baltimore are more than 5.6 times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than whites even though marijuana use among the races is similar.   In fact, Baltimore county has the fifth highest arrest rate for marijuana possessions in the USA.

2: Over $5.7 million has been paid out by Baltimore since 2011 in over 100 police brutality lawsuits.   Victims of severe police brutality were mostly people of color and included a pregnant woman, a 65 year old church deacon, children, and an 87 year old grandmother.

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Disdaining ‘the Search for Truth’

Paul R. Pillar writes at Consortiumnews:

It is unusual for a political leader to disavow truth-seeking as explicitly as Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin did when he tried to expunge from the longstanding mission statement of the University of Wisconsin a reference to “the search for truth” being a core purpose of the university.

Walker backed off, but only after public outrage and only with a retraction of his previous retraction that blamed the proposed change on a “drafting error.” The change in the mission statement was one part of a larger proposal by Walker that would slash much of the state’s subsidy of the university system.

The prevailing interpretation about Walker’s moves is that striking blows against the elite intellectuals one finds on the campus of a leading university — and suggesting, as Walker did, that the university could adjust to budget cuts by increasing professors’ work loads — pleases a sector of the Republican primary electorate to which Walker is appealing in seeking a presidential nomination in 2016.

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Interview: Why I Played the Cello at a Baghdad Bombsite

Steven Depolo (CC BY 2.0)

Steven Depolo (CC BY 2.0)

Barry Malone writes at Al Jazeera English:

Bombs are, sadly, not unusual in Baghdad. But when a car packed with explosives detonated in the busy Mansour district this week, killing at least 10 people and injuring 27, something very unusual happened.

Karim Wasfi, the renowned conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra, turned up as soldiers and police secured the area.

He took out his cello, sat down on a chair, and started to play. Images and video clips of the man some simply call ‘maestro’ quickly went viral, not only on Iraqi social media, but further afield.

Wasfi spoke to Al Jazeera about his decision to play the instrument, about why music and culture are as important as food and water, and about why the Middle East should be living in peace.

Al Jazeera: Why did you go to the site of a car bomb to play your cello?

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Nihilistic Mindfulness

Harry Koopman (CC BY 2.0)

Harry Koopman (CC BY 2.0)

Andrew Gonsalves writing at Don’t Feed the Animals:

I’ve been bad. I haven’t practiced meditating in a long time and I would easily classify most of my thoughts during the day as “mindless.” That is, of course, the opposite of “mindful.” Mindfulness is a skill that takes a fair amount of work to acquire. The most recognized route to mindfulness is through meditation, wherein you practice acknowledging your thoughts for what they are and then let them go. This leads to what is often called being “in the moment,” a state where you neither pine for the past, nor mull about the future, but instead appreciate your here and now.

The benefits of mindfulness meditation are so numerous that it may as well be considered a superpower (as close as you can get to one in this world). From various health improvements to a calmer, happier disposition, mindfulness will likely improve your life, if only a little bit.

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Believing That Life Is Fair Might Make You a Terrible Person

Bryon Lippincott (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Bryon Lippincott (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Oliver Burkeman writes at the Guardian:

If you’ve been following the news recently, you know that human beings are terrible and everything is appalling. Yet the sheer range of ways we find to sabotage our efforts to make the world a better place continues to astonish. Did you know, for example, that last week’s commemorations of the liberation of Auschwitz may have marginally increased the prevalence of antisemitism in the modern world, despite being partly intended as a warning against its consequences? Or that reading about the eye-popping state of economic inequality could make you less likely to support politicians who want to do something about it?

These are among numerous unsettling implications of the “just-world hypothesis”, a psychological bias explored in a new essay by Nicholas Hune-Brown at Hazlitt. The world, obviously, is a manifestly unjust place: people are always meeting fates they didn’t deserve, or not receiving rewards they did deserve for hard work or virtuous behaviour.

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